Andy’s Angry: Ryder, Returns, & Reinventing the Wrestling Wheel

This week, Andy was SO Angry ... we had to help him explain himself.

Things have been pretty good in the world of wrestling lately, haven’t they?  It’s made it pretty hard to put one of these angry rants together here in Parts Unknown.  But that’s my problem, not yours, so let’s get to business.

I’ve got a couple of things on my mind today, and I’m going to run through all of them.  It only seems fair.

First off, I suppose congratulations are in order for the entire WWE Universe.  You did it. You told WWE you wanted Daniel Bryan to be the #1 guy on the WWE roster, and refused to take no for an answer.  You destroyed matches and entire shows in the process, but you did it.  Now, it’s almost a given that Daniel Bryan will walk out of Wrestlemania as the WWE Champion.

But, depending on who or what rumors sites you believe, that wasn’t the plan until very recently.  And this isn’t the first time fans have changed the booking.

Be careful what you wish for.

A couple of years ago, there was another man who took WWE by storm.  Simple catchphrases, consistent work, and an obvious love for the game.  You took notice, and you demanded he be taken seriously.

Soon, Zack Ryder went from the goon with single-leg tights, to a guy moving up the midcard.  When he wasn’t booked, you chanted “WE WANT RYDER!”  You held your “Ryder or Riot” signs.  You tweeted, watched his YouTube series…and after a while, WWE decided to throw you (and him) a bone, and shut you up.

Remember when Zack Ryder won the United States title?  It was good times, indeed.  He was on the top of the world, and so were his many, many fans.

When Ryder lost the title, he didn’t stay in the mix.  WWE went out of their way to kill him, dead.  He got pushed off the stage, had John Cena steal his girlfriend (by accident), and got kicked square in the Tatankas at Wrestlemania.

Now, the guy can’t even get on the C-shows taped in his hometown.  Hell, he wasn’t even used on the HOUSE SHOW held 15 whole minutes from where he lives.

Why?  Because WWE never wanted Ryder to be a top star.  (Editor’s Note: Or, more accurately, probably felt that his appeal was limited to certain crowds/parts of the country and not worth the long-term investment that is involved in making someone a top star.) Even as a top merchandise seller, they felt that he was the super-hot flavor of the month.

And, because of that, they buried him, made him look stupid, stopped selling his merch, and eventually just stopped using him altogether.  And you didn’t notice or care, because you’d already moved on to the next guy.

So now, you’re chanting for Daniel Bryan. You’re buying his merch, you’re chanting for him in segment after segment, until he appears.  YES! YES! YES!, yes?  You’ll get your Wrestlemania moment in a week or so, but then what?  How long until Daniel Bryan is pushed down the card, or worse, turned into Captain Sarcasmo by the WWE and then pushed down the card because you’ve stopped loving him in the most profitable way for the WWE?  You won’t notice, because you’ll be chanting for guys like Cesaro, Sami Zayn, or whichever other talented midcarder steps up next. Which is why, while  I love Daniel Bryan, I’m going to do something you should do, too: enjoy his run while it lasts.

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I think WWE fans are way ahead of WWE corporate, including Triple H, on something very important.  And when Triple H and company catch on, it will save them a hell of a lot of money, and avoid lots of lousy forced-pushes and unwatchable TV.

We all saw what has gone on with Batista’s return.  The perception is that the WWE thought Batista was going to stroll in, be a top babyface star, and waltz into a WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Seems legit, until the guy shows up looking old, out of shape, and like the world’s oldest hipster douchebag.  WWE fans realized immediately that this middle-aged wannabe movie star was here to take the place of THEIR GUY, and they weren’t having it.

But WWE and Co are stubborn heading into Mania, so that wasn’t the end of the returns.  Now Hogan’s back, and for no real reason.  He’s cut a couple of promos plugging the WWE Network (but calling it the WWE Universe) and keeps plugging a big filler battle royal.  Not that I want this to be the Hogan show, but if you’re not going to use him well, why use him at all?  Where’s the payoff in this investment? (Editor’s Note: Him appearing on every national TV talk show and ESPN, and bringing thousands of untold people to the WWE Network aside, of course.)

Now there are rumors that Sting is WWE-bound, and will have a one-off retirement match.  At least there’s a payoff here: one money match. But it probably won’t be a good match, and I seriously doubt it will be a big enough money maker to justify the contract.  It’s a bad deal, being made for one reason, and one reason only: so Vince and Triple H can say they’ve finally conquered WCW, and its last holdout.  He’d be better off taking a check from Dixie Carter (Editor’s note: this is completely fucking true.)

It worked out really well spending a reported $400K to turn Giant Bernard into Lord Tensai?

Is RVD REALLY moving the needle that much, or is he just selling a few extra t-shirts?  How long until John Morrison, Carlito and Shelton Benjamin resurface, to round out the 2008 midcard in 2014?

There aren’t too many other guys left for big payoff returns, and that’s a good thing.  WWE has a reported 100 wrestlers in developmental.  I’d be willing to guess Batista or Hogan are making 20-times more than ANY developmental star.  I’d rather see Sami Zayn, Bo Rotunda, Adrian Neville, Colin Cassidy and Aidan English called up, then another Batista or Hogan to show up and hog airtime.

Oh, and one other thing – I’m sure Sheamus isn’t too excited about all the recent returns. Sheamus went from the top of the world not too long ago.  Now, he’s filler.  Big, pasty white, filler.  I said this would happen, right around the time of the title unification.  2013 did no favors for Sheamus, and 2014 isn’t starting out much better.

Oh hey, have you heard?  There’s talk that WWE wants The Rock back for next year.  It never ends.

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The rumor mill around Jeff Jarrett is heating up.  It sounds more and more likely that Double-J will be unveiling a new promotion, sooner than later, with shows starting later this year.  This is exciting news for me, as it should be for you, too.

The last time Jeff Jarrett had an idea, we got the X-Division.  We get guys like Chris Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, AJ Styles, and so money others on the national stage.  We got innovative ideas like the World X Cup – importing top young talent from all over the world.  We got solid women’s wrestling, that forced WWE to step up its game (Editor’s Note: …Eventually.)

There are three things I’m looking forward to, with the rumored Jarrett project:

  1. Jobs. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of indy wrestlers in the US alone.  Most will never wrestle for WWE or TNA.  Another top promotion means another place for these guys and girls to work, and make money.
  2. Competition. All markets are better for the consumer when there is increased competition amongst providers.  Competition means better matches, better stories, and better workers.
  3. Bringing back the fans.  American pro wrestling is so uniform today.  TNA started as an alternative, but it’s such a mirror of WWE, that it may as well air on the Network.  The fans who watched WCW are GONE.  They’re not watching professional wrestling anymore.  Perhaps a product that caters to that market, that doesn’t necessarily resemble WWE in any way (besides having guys fight in a wrestling ring) is the best way to go.  CMT would be the perfect home.  Professional wrestling is (was?) awesome, because of all the different personalities involved, and the different personalities it caters to.

Will Jarrett’s new gimmick succeed?  Only time will tell.  But one thing is clear, just from his teases.  If it fails, it won’t be from lack of effort, or lack of talent involved.

One thing is for sure—Jeff Jarrett definitely won’t be the next former star to return to WWE.

@AndyMillerJMS